Title: Performance

Media: Single channel SD video
Duration: 8'51''
Year: 2009

Cast: Tomas Spencer (as Mark); Jesse Inman (as Mr.Q)



A play for two characters observing and understanding the artist's performance.

Mark: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, once again we take you to an art location. Our support for today will be the Mr. Q. Hello Q.

Q: Hello Mark, nice to be here again...

Mark: Good to have you with us.

Q: ...thanks for inviting me.

Mark: Let’s see, the performance has not quite started yet, but what we see is…well, it is not clear what it is, but it does looks quite simple, don’t you think?

Q: Yes, if it doesn’t change later, this is quite a minimalist scene.

Mark: Sure, sure. Could you give us a bit of background on this artist Q, in the meantime?

Q: Well I haven’t found out much about him. Except that he is on a residency this autumn. So I guess...this could be his studio here.

Mark: Then this…thing on the wall could be his work?

Q: I hope not! (Laughing)

Mark: Ok, let’s go back to the studio - as the artist has just appeared.

Mark: What I am seeing here from this performance is that it seems to be...very different from the last one.

Q: That’s right, the scenography has changed, it has minimalist atmosphere, totally different from the previous pompous and theatrical piece with the mountain.

Mark: And also, there is no music?

Q: For the moment, yes. But I think it will stay that way.

Mark: Really?

Q: Yes.

Mark: How can you tell?

Q: Well, I think this is an obvious attempt to make it look like an art performance from the 70’s.

Mark: Really?

Q: Well yes, I mean, take a look at it, it is a black and white video, lousy image, he is dressed like someone from that period, this is obviously his studio – it is just too similar to the 70’s aesthetics.

Mark: You don't think that maybe he is just dressed like this for no specific reason, the clothes he put on in the morning, or...?

Q: (sarcastic) No...

Mark: No?

Q: ...everything is a statement here.

Mark: All right, ok. Maybe, maybe this artist isn’t quite referring to the 70’s, or at least that’s not his point here, but perhaps what he wants to tell us is more something to do with the knives that he is actually throwing, something that we just can't see yet at this moment. What do you think?

Q: Ohm, knowing this artist, what you see in the beginning is what you get in the end. But ok, I see you started with your interpretation Mark, is there anything more?

Mark: No, Q I didn’t want to take your job...

Q: No, its fine really, give it a try.

Mark: All right. What can this activity represent? The closest guess could be a circus spectacle. (Enthusiastic) You know those spectacular moments when a man puts his head into the lion’s jaws, or when an acrobat is walking the tight rope, or knives are throwing on to beautiful women…

Yeah, Mark, I’ve been in the circus, thank you. But look, if it is a circus, then where is the danger, where is the excitement?

Good point! Maybe that is exactly what the artist wants to point out here, that today’s art is like shooting blanks, shooting into thin air, that there is no real risk anymore, no real danger, just the rhetoric of true art movements from the last century.


Q: No, no, no...

Q: Look, you are really building up this work with interpretation.

Do you think so?!

Well yes. You see, I would totally disagree with that point of view. But even if it were so, there is still no explanation why it has to look like the 70’s? He cannot just make that reference and leave it without an explanation.

Why not?! An artist has no obligation to explain his work surely.

Yes he does! If he wants to communicate – he does.

But I thought it was your job Q to explain the artist’s work to us?

Not to explain Mark, but to interpret it. And doing so, I see lot of problems with the references I found in this work.

For example...?

Q: For example, he is offering this as a gallery piece, right?

Mark: Right.

Q: Well, one of the ideas of art from the 70’s is to eliminate the need for galleries, museums. It was an attempt to purify the art by taking it out from any kind of capitalistic, Market-based institutions. So, don’t you see the contradiction in this situation?

Mark: Ok, it’s hard to beat your arguments, I'll give you that Q, but I am just not so sure of the relevance of the reference you are pointing out. Perhaps he just couldn’t afford a decent camera. Maybe it’s not about circus, ok, fair enough, but perhaps it is about ...skill, talent. That leads to art.

Q: Ha, ha, ha, no,

Mark: No?

Q: No Mark, not any more, not since a long time ago.

Mark: But why? Ok, well, you are the expert… let me try again, I am kind of enjoying this right now. You said he is on residency, right?

Q: That's correct, yes.

Mark: Ok, so maybe he is telling us that he is bored at the residency. That this long lasting boring activity can represent the message – I am bored, I am bored, enough of openings, museums, galleries, artists, curators, meetings, opportunities…

Q: look, d on’t be so critical of the art world. You will almost make me tell something good about this artwork - this could be just the message that art comes from boredom. But that would be a statement as fresh as last winter’s snow. Leave the art world alone Mark, you are attacking it too much.

Mark: I am not, I am just trying to increase the level of references in order to find some clues in this man's work…

Q: But that is the problem, the artist should help you with at least one clear and visible reference. Unfortunately, he is not helping very much.

Mark: What if he doesn’t want to help us?

Q: Then you should stop trying to help him (Laugh). He doesn’t deserve to increase the level of references for him.

Mark: Ok, well, whatever the case Q, mostly I just don’t understand contemporary art. Why would this be an exception?

Q: Look, in order to understand contemporary art, you need to know the pre-text of the artwork and the artist. And this pre-text is exactly what gives me the problem with this piece, because it seems like it is not there.

Mark: Not where?